Christians know this. The forgiveness of sins won and declared by our Savior opens wide the gate to heaven. Forgiveness expressed by God’s people to one another restores harmony in relationships and keeps us connected to the One who forgives completely, undeservedly, and unconditionally.
Forgiveness is at the heart of any growing, thriving relationship.
Psychology continues to discover the benefits of forgiveness (non-salvation-related, but still very real). This is from a news article nearly 20 years ago. I saved it and filed it away in the “No kidding!” category…
"The topic of forgiveness is hot right now," says psychologist Janis Abrahms Spring. “Conferences are being held. Articles are being written. Forgiveness is being plucked out of the spiritual and theological realm and put into the psychological and physical." The article continues: “In recent years, scientists have gotten interested in the health benefits of forgiveness. Their studies have shown the serious mental, emotional and physical consequences of an unforgiving heart…psychotherapists have found forgiveness to be a useful tool in reconciling couples and families. In some studies, it's been linked to a lessening of chronic back pain and depression; in others, to reduced levels of stress hormones.” (“Letting Go” by Elizabeth Large, The Baltimore Sun, December 25, 2004)
The Mayo Clinic is hardly a spiritual authority, but a fine resource for physical and mental health. From an online article published on November 22, 2022 (https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/forgiveness/art-20047692):
What are the effects of holding a grudge?
If you struggle with finding forgiveness, you might:
- Bring anger and bitterness into new relationships and experiences.
- Become so wrapped up in the wrong that you can't enjoy the present.
- Become depressed, irritable or anxious.
- Feel at odds with your spiritual beliefs.
- Lose valuable and enriching connections with others.
What are the benefits of forgiving someone?
Letting go of grudges and bitterness can make way for improved health and peace of mind. Forgiveness can lead to:
- Healthier relationships.
- Improved mental health.
- Less anxiety, stress and hostility.
- Fewer symptoms of depression.
- Lower blood pressure.
- A stronger immune system.
- Improved heart health.
- Improved self-esteem.
No kidding to all of that. And remember, forgiveness is also good for the soul, for your relationship with God, and for entrance into heaven! God’s people have long known about the power of forgiveness. Long before there was a Freud or the field of psychotherapy or forgiveness could be called “hot” or the cure du jour (the cure of the moment), God’s people knew: David knew, Abraham, Moses, Peter, Paul. You know. You don’t need a psychologist to tell you the power of forgiveness. So save yourself some time, money, and relationships, and even lower your stress level by consulting John the Baptist and listening to him say, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29)
With David, we cry out to the One who loves and forgives with an everlasting love: “Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Psalm 51:8-12)
And be sure to offer that free and undeserved forgiveness to others! “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Forgiven by the blood of the Lamb,
Pastor Stephen Luchterhand